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Nikka Taketsuru 17 Year Old

Average score from 9 reviews and 20 ratings 91

Nikka Taketsuru 17 Year Old

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@Victor
Nikka Taketsuru 17 Year Old

Nikka Taketsuru 17 yo is a blended malt. The reviewed sample is thanks to @Robert99

Nose: very strong flavours from both malt and from wood, mostly middle-pitched, but also with a few high and low range pitches. Vivid, clean, clear, strong, and beautiful. Water added brings out fruit and flowers. Beautiful with water. Score: 23.5/25

Taste: fabulous translation of the nose flavours to the mouth. Remains a big whisky, with strong flavours from both barley and from oak. Citrus is evident in the mouth. Is there any wine influence? Maybe a small amount. Water brings out added sweetness and bundles the flavours. Score: 23/25

Finish: stays long and strong with a slow fade out. Water gives a bundled finish which brings out both additional sweetness and additional sourness. Score: 22/25

Balance: excellent in the nose; very good in the mouth. Score; 23.5/25

Total Sequential Score: 92 points

Strength: very strong flavours throughout. Score: 24/25

Quality: all of the flavours are of very good to excellent quality. Score: 23.5/25

Variety: good to very good variety. Score: 22/25

Harmony: excellent in the nose; very good thereafter. Score: 23/25

Total Non-Sequential Score: 92.5 points

Comment: everyone should own a bottle of Nikka Taketsuru 17 Year Old

Interestingly, @Victor, I tried this one on many occasions, be it in bars, at home alone by myself or during a tasting, and it never stroke a chord with me. I do remember that I always liked the nose but that the palate invariably failed to deliver on the expectations raised during the nosing session. Be that as it may, the Taketsuru 17yo is now sold out in Japan (as the owner of my favourite bar in Kobe told me back in December), so those of us who are keen to stock up on this while retailers' stocks last abroad should better do so.

@Victor I am glad you like it. I missed your review when you wrote it. This one is special for me because it changes every time I have it. There are days when I have more smoke, the morning when I have more sherry (and alcohol)and the best day when I have both with some wonderful and fruity malt. The strangest part is that when I let my bottle rest for a few months, the first dram is very closed but in the following days you get the best of it. Thanks for another good review.

@Nozinan

This one is courtesy of @paddockjudge, who always saves me samples of things I can’t get myself but would love to try.

I haven’t tried too many Japanese whiskies before. Other than one a sip or two of the Yamasaki 18 everyone was gushing about (It pays to be polite - or at least appear so - in line at Spirit of Toronto) and it’s 10 YO sibling in 2011, that might be it.

So I was excited to give this one a go.

Nose:

Neat - Ripe fruits. Some pineapple. Maybe a hint of vanilla. Sweet. Very few bass notes. On the nose this is a very floral whisky. 23/25

With a few drops of water and 10 minutes - green apple, honey.

Taste: Wow! Lots of fruit, just like in the nose. A little spirit. It’s got a thin mouthfeel as though it were chill-filtered. Slight hint of vanilla. Marmalade came to my mind. not sure if I tasted it or thought it. Another sip confirms it. 23/25

With the water, the flavours are washed out. It becomes bitter. With time and perseverance some of the fruits are back. Definitely better neat.

Finish: A little short. Dry, some tannins, and, interestingly, pineapple on the finish. A little sour. 21/25

Balance. The palate receives what the nose promised. This seems to be quite a nicely balanced whisky. 22/25

At cask strength or even possibly at 46% this could be a 94/100 whisky. There is nothing really wrong with it. It’s clean, fruity, but slightly underpowered.

I would definitely accept this if offered. And possibly buy a bottle if the opportunity arose at a fair price.

Had a glass of this last weekend and was not all that impressed. I did not see the level in the bottle, as I drank on the bluffs outside. Perhaps it was a bit over the hill in terms of oxidation. I could not resist trying the T17 since it will become quite expensive next time round. And, of course, the aged Nikka's are going bye bye. I liked the Mikyagikyo 12 more than the T17. Cheers and thanks for the great review. Well written and informative to be sure.

@hunggar

The Taketsuru 17 is a gem. As of now, it’s ranked 23 in the list of top whiskies on this site. But it’s worth noting that it’s the only non-single malt on the list, disregarding bourbon. So how is it that a blended malt has found itself such an honourary place among the best of the best? Honestly, I don’t know. All I can say is that the folks at Nikka certainly know what they’re doing. Here are the tasting notes:

Nose: Raisins, dates, sherry, maple syrup, dark honey, seared oak, banana-nut, buttered bran muffins, marmalade, ginseng root, and some mild herbal notes.

Palate: Beautiful, silky texture with a paced arrival. I get Raisin Bran cereal, banana-nut, soft spices, herbal notes, oak, ginseng, rich caramel, and some fruit-forward sherry fruitiness.

Finish: The spices build to a not-too-heavy but thoroughly enjoyable crescendo. A light, silky caramel presence sets in, and blankets the other notes of banana-nut, seared honey, Japanese oak, damp earth, soy sauce, herbal notes, and gentle smoke. Medium length and very enjoyable.

This whisky treads the difficult line of being great for connoisseurs and novices alike. It’s beautifully complex but also extremely approachable. The balance and structure are near-perfection, with all the notes sounding off in total harmony. Truly, nothing about the Taketsuru 17 is off-key. However, one could be justified in complaining about the low-ish abv. As MaltActivist mentioned in his review, this whisky would absolutely soar at cask strength. While it does offer a healthy kick given its 43%, I think a significantly higher abv might elevate it to being nothing short of magnificent. But as it stands, this is still one of the finest non-single malt experiences to be had out there. Extremely recommended.

Nikka Taketsuru 17 yo is truly a gorgeous whisky, though I don't know why the category of "blended malt" should seem so very far away from "single malt" as a flavour style. It is still all barley-malt whisky. Now if this Connosr crowd ever brings back onto the 50 top highest rated list true blended whisky based on barley-malt, whether from Scotland or elsewhere, that will be radical. At one time The Bailie Nicol Jarvie blended Scotch was on the Connosr top 50 rated list. I am not holding my breath about a blended barley-based whisky coming back onto that list anytime soon.

@hunggar great review as usual. We both seem to have found very similar flavors and looks like we gave it basically the same score.

Lovely blend this and I agree with @Victor that blended malt should not be so very far away from single malts given it's basically all barley-malt whisky.

@MaltActivist

Taketsuru San is a legend. He worked in Scotland during the early part of the 20th century at Longmorn and then at Hazelburn all the while carefully plotting a plan that would take the whisky world by storm.

He went back to Japan armed with whisky making knowledge and a Scottish wife (of no relevance to this review by the way) and began work at Kotobukiya (which would later become Suntory). Then in 1934 he decided to open up his own distillery and chose Yoichi on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaid?. He believed that this part of the country most resembled Scotland.

This distillery would be named Nikka.

This pure 2013 pure malt is a homage to the great man who is responsible for some of my finest moments in whisky drinking. This blend also has the distinction of winning the 2014 World Whiskies Award for Best Blend. Not that I give a toss about whisky awards.

Nose: The sherry influence is is obvious. Dark honey and marmalade fig jam on slightly burnt toast. There is a touch of fresh mint and almonds too. It gets fruitier over time with pears and red berries. All this against a backdrop of decadent oaky chocolate cake.

Palate: Rich. Robust. Creamy. Unmistakable sherry raisins and chocolate maple. The black coffee peppers bring the spice while the ripe sultanas add a touch of fruit.

Finish: Spicy date on autumn leaves.

This is quite a bold whisky and unashamed of it's flavors. I'd love to see a cask strength version of this.

Nikka, are you reading this?

Freaking yum. This is on my most wanted list. Need to get some now before the price goes up a la Yamazaki 18. I am super impressed with several Japanese malts. I wish more were available in the US.

Yes! This whisky drinks pretty big for its abv, but a CS version of this would be EPIC! Strange, I've seen reviews here that have the abv at 40% and yours is at 46%. The only ones I've ever had are at 43%. Regional differences?

Wonderful review, as always.

@Pierre_W

Taketsuru 17 yo is a blend using malt whiskies matured in Sherry casks for seventeen years or more from both the Miyagikyo and Yoichi distilleries. The term “Pure Malt” indicates that the whisky does not contain any grain whisky. It is named in honour of Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of Nikka, one of the two major Japanese whisky-producing companies.

The nose is quite fruity with honey, vanilla, lemon and banana. At the end there is a touch of smoke, unexpected but welcome. All in all this is a very pleasant nose.

The palate is medium-bodied, smooth and very fruity, too. I detected banana, grapes and caramel, followed by subdued smoke and some pepper.

The finish is medium-long, fruity, dry, and both spicy and peppery at the end.

I liked this very much. It is quite a step from the 12yo that had struck me as being a bit bland (although very drinkable). Taketsuru 17yo has got the complexity that I would expect from a blend and I was particularly impressed with its balance and the really nice nose. Quietly sip this on an evening and you cannot go wrong.

@shimaaji
@Jeffrey

At risk of being considered heterodox, I have a pronounced preference for Japanese whiskies over their Scottish cousins. I admit this here not merely to disqualify myself from reviewing non-American whiskies, but to state my bias openly. The Japanese have a genius for imitation that transcends the derivative into a mystical realm of inspired mimesis. Their distillers have somehow managed to take the traditions of Scotland and create something that, to my virginal Scotch palate, out-Scotches Scotch. I would go so far as to opine they have devised a way to access the original platonic idea of whisky and approximate it for our mortal senses. The grand body, the immense and wafting smoke of Scotch meets a delicacy and precision that effortlessly distills the pride of Japan’s awe-inspiring civilization into a single bottle. And that bottle is the Nikka “Taketsuru” 17 year pure malt. Pure alchemy, rather. How can anyone extract from a foul of grainy sludge such a supernal draught? You might as well make an earth out of an accretion disc from around the moon. The Taketsuru is a light amber and has a thick nose that presents strata of char and smoke. Native Americans could have used this for their smoke signals as its deliciously reeking nose can be smelled from miles away. Amid these wafting surges is a tantalizing whiff of something sweet and seductive, like the sweetness of a good cigar. Fine consistency with some heat but the nice sort of heat that a curry furnishes. Where to begin with flavors? Smoke, smoked meat, blueberries, malt, and a bit of charred leather, grilled eggplant, and apricots. Rosewater and pepper emerge in subsequent sips. This is a beastly whisky. "Multeity in unity" like Coleridge's beauty.

Wonderful and passionate review! I'm reading it as I'm targeting this bottle for Xmas present to my self. But I have not had the previlge to taste it yet. I've had the 12 and 21yo Taketsurus and they are both champions in my book ("best taste:price ratio" and "best non-single malt" respectively. I just have a feeling it is safe to buy the 17yo without having tasted it first. Your review reflects what I expect from from this whisky.

Thanks, NilsG. The 12 and 21 are fantastic but this titan remains my favorite of the three. The extra age in comparison to the 12 allows the 17 to develop its flavor profile to an intense and yet lovely balance (like a good curry). The 21, for me, has a few protruding elements that had been magically blended into an organic whole in the 17. That said, I have only had the 21 once and it deserves another chance or perhaps three or four chances...how I love the Japanese!

@OJK

Nose, Taste, Finish and Balance are graded out of 2.5 each:

Nose: This being a blended malt', one shouldn't therefore be surprised to find the 'malt' part of the equation firmly on the nose, and it's here in sweet abundance. There is however plenty of the 'blended' element of the equation as well, as the malt does not at all overpower, rather inflect upon the varying and intriguing notes that are on offer here, including sweet rice, polished silver, and cold and mushy cooked banana and peas. With these kind of eccentric flavours to explore, there's an inclination to stick around for a while before moving on to the palate. 2.0

Taste: Often with whisky one feels on the palate that you're dealing with an impatient child that is pulling on your arm to hurry up and get to the finish. None of that here. There is an aura of calm, the whisky is contained and contemplative, in no rush to go anywhere. Strawberry jam and warm honey blend together sumptuously, never overstepping their mark, allowing for a malted bread-loaf to slowly rise in your mouth. You could meditate to this. 2.5

Finish: A cube of brown sugar is placed on the tongue, and in slow-motion it slowly melts, giving off bitter-sweet fumes of malted fig jam on rye bread, before the sugar is completed melted and then allowed to slowly harden into an oaky glass crisp. Time seems suspended as the finish floats without end. 2.5

Balance: A whisky of seemingly timeless depth and character, there is both the eccentricity that comes with age, as well as the languid calm that accompanies it. This is a whisky for introspection and reflection, and another example of how Japanese whisky is gloriously inimitable. 2.5

That has to be one of the best whisky reviews I've ever had the pleasure to read. About 6 months ago someone asked if I was interested in a bottle of whisky they had opened and used for cooking. Being the whisky nut that I am, I of course said 'yes please'. Turned out to be a bottle of Taketsuru 17. I thought to myself 'Mottainai' which roughly translates as, what a waste.

Many thanks for the kind words @nikkaman. And also for the great anecdote! Mottainai indeed!!

@scribe

While I've encountered Nikka on a few occasions, I've yet to sample any of the blended malt they call "Taketsuru", so I had to make it one to try at the Nikka stand. I suspect this will get very popular over the next year; the 21-year version just won world's best blended malt a week previously.

The Taketsuru is, to my mind, decidedly Japanese, and brings back rain-infused forests on hillsides enveloped by the sea. The nose gave me grassy tones, with light wood polish, and hints of esters reminding me of the grain whisky (that I'd had a few moments before, admittedly).

On sipping, this was overtaken by more grungey flavours - red wine, grapes, salt and pepper, and a fair bit of burn. A pleasantly hot day after emerging from the top of the woods.

Hitting the throat, the real forest notes comes out - that lovely vegetal line, delivered in a business-like manner. This gradually resolves into the damp forest floor, a hint of winter flowers, and some sweat.

There's a certain "complex simplicity" to the Taketsuru 17. There range of flavours are delicate, balanced, and reveal themselves in proper order, adding up to a hugely interesting and very enjoyable whisky indeed.

[Whisky Live 2010]

Nice review. Sounds very interesting.

Thanks Piero. P.s. Ignore the colour listed - I didn't take any note for that...

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